Everyone knows that too much alcohol is not good for their bodies and brain. When too much alcohol is consumed and addiction occurs, the brain and its functionality get damaged. It is easy to notice the effects of alcohol on someone. When someone is an alcoholic, the substance will take over their body and mind and ruin every aspect of their life.
However, there are some things that people do not realize. Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to severe health issues and mental conditions, and one of the worst consequences of alcohol dependence is alcohol dementia. This condition is especially affecting elderly people or those who have been abusing alcohol for decades. If left untreated, this problem can cause irreversible damage. If treated soon enough, alcohol-related dementia can be reversible, and the addict can start living a normal, alcohol-free life.
Explaining Alcohol Dementia
Alcohol dementia is a brain damage type that occurs as a result of too much alcohol consumption. The individual suffering from this condition is usually addicted to alcohol and has been living with the addiction for decades. They are doing nothing about it either because they do not want to or because they can’t give up on alcohol. Although not all people who drink excessively will end up with dementia, it is something that could happen and should be taken into consideration.
Alcohol dementia can be dangerous due to the effect it has on the brain. It may cause decision-making difficulties, impaired judgment, memory issues, cognitive skill issues, learning difficulties, and lack of sight. Daily tasks are challenging, and the affected person cannot live a normal life. They risk putting themselves in dangerous situations too when they’re in public or when living by themselves.
How it Happens
This type of dementia can only happen once someone has been abusing alcohol for a very long time. This could mean decades of alcohol abuse without getting any help. More often than not, people who are suffering from alcohol addiction also have nutritional deficiencies. Alcohol not only makes it harder for someone to absorb certain nutrients necessary for the well-functioning of the brain, but it may also make people eat less. The brain cells go through a lot of struggles and may end up deteriorating, which leads to dementia.
One of the things that our brain needs is thiamine. Also known as vitamin B1, it helps brain cells produce energy from sugar. So, in order to work properly, the brain needs thiamine. If you do not provide enough thiamine, though, the nerve cells may end up being permanently damaged. The lack of energy will not allow them to work properly, which leads to brain damage in the long term.
The Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome is one of the types of dementia that may occur as a result of thiamine deficiency. Since a lot of alcoholics deal with thiamine deficiency, it goes to show how dementia is possible.
Causes That Lead To Dementia
Alcohol dementia is caused by a combination of the alcohol addiction itself and the lack of proper nutrition. When someone drinks too much alcohol, the body cannot process thiamin properly. As a result, it doesn’t receive the right amount of thiamin, leading to deficiency.
Consuming too much alcohol may also make people eat less than they should, which further increases the risk of thiamin deficiency. Together with the consumption of too much alcohol, nutritional deficiencies also lead to alcohol dementia.
Symptoms of Alcoholic Dementia
The condition manifests uniquely for each individual. However, some particular signs are showing that someone is dealing with alcohol dementia, such as:
- Inability to learn anything new
- Personality changes
- Memory issues
- Depression and anxiety
- Problems with their balance
- Decreased initiative and spontaneity
- Difficulty when dealing with anything involving planning, organizing, common sense judgment, or social skills
When someone suffers from alcohol dementia after decades of consumption, they may end up dealing with the Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome. This syndrome is a mix of Wernicke’s encephalopathy and Korsakoff’s dementia.
Sometimes, people develop only one of these conditions, but it is not unusual for both of them to occur consecutively. Wernicke’s encephalopathy develops first usually, with Korsakoff’s dementia being the one that lasts longer once it occurs.
This syndrome brings along a lot of memory and cognitive issues. Korsakoff’s dementia shows signs like long-term memory gaps, as well as difficulty in filling in the gaps and memorizing new information. Wernicke’s encephalopathy brings abnormal eye movements, loss of coordination, stumbling, and confusion.
The good thing is that alcohol dementia is reversible, and if you start the treatment early, you can get rid of it. To begin with, in order for someone to stop dealing with alcohol dementia, they have to stop drinking. More often than not, this cannot be done without help from a professional.
If the individual seeks help soon enough, they will be able to recover and prevent further damage. Going through a detoxication and rehabilitation program will be necessary most of the time. The individual will have to undergo treatment that will stop the addiction and give the former addict a fresh start.
To make things easier and raise the likelihood of success, counselors and therapists are also part of the process. They will help the individual determine their triggers so they can learn how to avoid them or find better ways to cope. Sobriety can be ensured this way.
However, if the individual does not seek help soon enough, they may cause irreversible damage to their brain.
Why Real Deal?
Real Deal is a program of change, which shows you that there is life after addiction. When they’re out of rehab, people can seek help from Real Deal’s sober living homes, where they can work to get a new purpose in life. At Real Deal, you can get help from professionals and work to integrate into society as a fully functioning individual who can work and take care of himself/herself. Real Deal is the beginning of a new life, free of addiction.
Do you or someone dear suffer from alcohol addiction? Reach out to us right now and you can start recovery!